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AGAINST – Higher Education Support Amendment (Response to the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report) Bill 2023 - Second Reading - Bill should be referred to Committee

The majority voted against an amendment to the usual second reading motion, which is "that the bill be read a second time" (reading a bill for a second time is parliamentary jargon for agreeing with the main idea of the bill). This amendment was introduced by Barker MP Tony Pasin (Liberal).

Amendment text

That all words after "That" be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:

"whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading, the House notes that the bill is deficient in a number of respects including that:

(1) more than three million Australians have a HECS debt or other type of student debt under the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) scheme which increased by a massive 7.1 per cent on 1 June 2023, the highest indexation rate in more than 30 years, as a result of the Government's cost of living crisis and sky-high inflation rate;

(2) by proposing to abolish the Coalition's 50 per cent pass rule, the Government has failed to protect students at high risk of not completing their course from accumulating debilitating HECS debts and suffering acute financial hardship;

(3) the Government's reliance on a 'survey' of 27 universities to justify the abolition of the 50 per cent pass rule indicates that the Government has not been able to access the relevant data as to how many students are impacted by this measure, reflecting a poor adherence to evidence-based policy;

(4) in proposing to uncap Commonwealth supported places (CSPs) available to Indigenous students living in metropolitan areas which extends the Coalition's measure to uncap CSPs for Indigenous students living in regional and remote Australia, the Government has not explained how it will hold universities to account for poor completion rates by Indigenous students which currently sees only 26 per cent of Indigenous students complete their undergraduate degree within four years, with 37 per cent of students dropping out during that period;

(5) by reason that the Government is proposing to release a consultation paper on its proposed support-for-students policy, it is clear that the Government has not done its homework on this policy nor determined the basis on which universities would be fined as proposed by the bill;

(6) the bill fails to impose on universities a strong accountability and transparency framework including fair and just access to student refunds and the requirement that universities must publish all relevant course information including out-of-pocket costs, total costs, completion rates, modes of course delivery, and employment outcomes;

(7) the Government needs to be transparent with taxpayers regarding how much its changes to the higher education system will cost and how it will pay for them; and

(8) given its deficiencies, the bill should be referred to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee for inquiry".


Date and time: 1:15 PM on 2023-09-06
Allegra Spender's vote: No
Total number of "aye" votes: 51
Total number of "no" votes: 88
Total number of abstentions: 12
Related bill: Higher Education Support Amendment (Response to the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report) Bill 2023

Adapted from information made available by

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